Iceland Mag

3 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

Haggis originally brought to Scotland by Vikings, an award winning Scottish butcher argues

By Staff

  • Icelandic “Slátur” A Scottish butcher argues the Scottish national dish, Haggis, was originally brought to Scotland by Vikings, making it a descendant of the Viking delicacy still eaten in Iceland, slátur. Photo/Arnþór Birkisson.

A Scottish butcher who has spent the past few years researching Haggis recipes argues it dates back to the Viking invaders of the British Isles the UK newspaper The Telegraph reports. The paper argues the research of award-winning Scottish butcher Joe Callaghan, who has spent the last three years studying haggis shows “Scotland’s national dish is an ‘imposter’… invented by Vikings”. Callaghan also argues the original Scottish ingredient is deer, not sheep. 

The "natonal dish of Scotand", invented by Vikings
Haggis is a dish very similar to the Icelandic delicacy slátur: A sausage made by stuffing a sheep's stomach with diced innards of sheep, liver as well as lungs and heart, mixed with a oatmeal, onion, pieces of sheep suet (solid white fat) as well as seasoning. Haggis is considered the “national dish” of Scotland, occupying an important place in Scottish culture and national identity.

Read more: Food of the Vikings: How to make authentic Icelandic delicacy Slátur (Slaughter)

The origins of Haggis are not definitely known, but many scots have assumed it must be of Scottish origin. The oldest known recipe of Haggis dates to around 1430, a cookbook published in Lancashire, Liber Cure Cocorum, which mentions “hagws of a schepe”. But the inhabitants of Lancashire, and of course Scotland, originally learned to cook Haggis from the Vikings who invaded, conquered and colonized large parts of the British isles in the 9th and 10th centuries.

Haggis simply means minced meat
The Telegraph points out several noted food writers and chefs have argued haggis is most likely Norse in origin. Among the proof is the argument that the word haggis actually comes from the Old Norse word haggw, which means to hack into pieces. The modern Icelandic noun hakk, which means something which has been minced (used for minced meat, for example), and the verb "höggva" are derived from the same root.

Read more: The Vikings left their mark on the European map: Here is our guide to help you find them

“Scotland’s national dish, as it is widely known, is an imposter. The real national dish is staggis, and always has been,” The Telegraph quotes Callaghan, who has developed a deer-based haggis recipe he calls “staggis”: “Deer is an indigenous species in Scotland,” he said. “The Vikings brought haggis to Scotland, we are sure of this. My recipe is based on the original Viking recipe, made with venison plucks, which I have tweaked a bit so it’s unique to me."


Related content

Editor's Picks